Lately, it seems like all everyone in the social media marketing world is talking about is Instagram reels. And with good reason! Since Instagram is trying to compete with TikTok as the go-to platform for short-form video content, Instagram’s algorithm is currently favoring reels over any other type of content on the platform. And if you’re looking for that one magical ingredient to grow your audience by hundreds, even thousands of followers overnight, reels are it. However, I’ve heard numerous times from people saying they’re posting reels but they’re not seeing the explosive growth that they’ve heard so much about. Why is that? In today’s episode, I’m sharing 10 reasons why your reels aren’t going viral, and what you can do to fix it.
10 Reasons Why Your Reels Aren’t Going Viral
Before we get into the 10 reasons why your reels aren’t going viral, we need to clear the air about what virality really means. When people think of going viral, they think of a video that has millions of views, has been written about on Buzzfeed, or maybe it turned into a meme. In reality, going viral simply means that your piece of content is reaching more people than it normally does.
Say you have 5000 followers and your Instagram post normally reaches 3000 people. But you post a reel that reaches 10,000 people and has over 10,000 plays–that reel has gone viral for you. So before we begin, we need to understand that virality is largely based on your current reach.
Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of why your reels aren’t going viral. Starting with…
You’re Not Stopping the Scroll
At the end of the day, Instagram is still a highly visual platform. And if your reel isn’t eye-catching enough, they might be scrolling right past your content. In order to stop the scroll, your video needs to be eye-catching in some way, shape, or form. Accomplishing this can be as simple as putting on a bright lipstick, wearing a patterned shirt or statement earrings, or you could shoot your video against a beautiful background or location. Choose an eye-catching tactic that works for you. I personally film most of my reels from my couch but wearing bright lipstick has helped me capture people’s attention.
Your Hook isn’t Effective
Hooks are the first few crucial seconds of your reel that encourage people to keep on watching. Although there are a number of ways to craft an effective hook, it’s important to keep in mind what motivation you’re going to provide your viewers with in order to keep them watching until the end. The easiest way to do this is to think about the problems your ideal audience is facing and what they might want within your niche.
In this episode, I give a real-life example of how one of my clients was able to create an effective hook within her niche (fashion). Her hook spoke directly to her audience’s pain points that the reel ended up going viral immediately.
You Don’t Understand the Trend Clearly
When it comes to reels, it’s a great idea to adapt to trends as soon as possible. But if you’re not understanding the trend clearly, this could actually be a reason why your reels aren’t going viral. For instance, there’s a trend where the first clip shows a person falling backward with their arm outstretched toward the camera. In the next clip, the shot shows them freezing mid-fall as they smile and start to dance.
Essentially, the trend is structured to address a problem you’re experiencing (hence you’re feeling like you’re falling). But luckily, you remember the solution to the problem or the reality of the situation isn’t nearly as bad as the problem you’re facing (therefore you’re caught mid-air and immediately more at ease).
If you do not understand the structure of that trend and you created a reel that doesn’t make sense with it, then you could be hurting your reel’s performance. Spend a lot of time looking at TikTok or reels of people doing that trend so that you fully understand the tone and the angle of it. Once you understand it, you can tailor it to fit your niche.
You’re Being Way Too Wordy
It’s important to caption your reels on the screen. Adding text to your reels will allow you to adapt to trends, deliver value, and provide inspiration. But being too wordy and covering most of the video with text is not a great idea. The solution? Remove and consolidate. Cut out unnecessary words, be concise, and get straight to the point. Last but not least, don’t forget to rewatch and make sure your text is legible and your viewers can watch your reel and get what they need.
You’re Using a TikTok Video
This is a really quick tip, but Instagram has officially announced that they will not promote reels with a TikTok watermark. Meaning, if you reuse a TikTok video as a reel and it still has the TikTok watermark, Instagram will not show your reel on the explore page. To avoid this, simply remove the watermark but uploading your TikTok video to SnapTik.
You’re Not Giving Your Reels a Chance
One of the worst parts of social media is our constant need for instant gratification. Too often, we feel discouraged when we see a low view count on our reels a few hours (even a day) after posting it. If you have experience with TikTok, you know that TikTok videos don’t normally pick up steam on the first day. What usually ends up happening is that same TikTok can snowball a few days later, even gaining more views months from now.
The algorithm for Instagram reels is exactly the same. It is not like a typical static Instagram post where you can tell within the first hour how that post is going to perform. If you decide that your reel has low engagement relative to the normal engagement you get in a post, therefore you decided to delete it, you have literally eliminated your chance of having that reel go viral. To be honest, most of my reels don’t pick up views until five to seven days after posting them.
Moral of the story: be patient and do not delete your reels.
You’re Not Posting Reels Consistently
Say it with me: consistency is key!
And yes, that applies to your reels as well. I covered this in this episode of Her Life By Design, but Instagram has actually said themselves that how consistent and frequent you are with reels will impact the performance of all of your reels. Although Instagram suggests posting 4-7 reels per week (which is a lot), they also mention that consistency is going to matter more. If you’re overwhelmed by posting that many reels in a week, start with posting two per week and work your way up from there. And to make things more manageable, I suggest batching reels ahead of time.
Your Reel Doesn’t Fall Into One of These 3 Categories
If your reel doesn’t fall into the educational, inspirational, or relatable category, it most likely isn’t going to go viral. Every single reel that you put up should either teach your audience something within your niche, serve as an inspiration for your audience, or be relatable. Here’s what that could look like:
- Educational: these are the most important reels in my opinion. Because they position you as a thought leader and they provide value to your audience, especially if you’re a course creator, coach, or service provider. Just be sure that your educational reels fall into one of your 3-5 content pillars.
- Inspirational: inspirational reels should share your journey, a transformation, or something aspirational. But personally, I think these reels should make up 20%-30% of your reel content.
- Relatable: remember the Hot Girl Shit trend? That’s a great example of a relatable reel.
Your Lighting and Sound Quality are Low
Again, Instagram is a highly visual platform. Add the audio aspect of reels and now good quality sound is an important part of the equation. When you film your reels, make sure you’re standing by a large window with bright, natural light. If that isn’t an option, invest in a ring light. As for sound, it is totally fine to record your sound or your voiceovers on your iPhone–that’s what I do. But make sure that there’s no noise, wind, barking, or any distracting noises in the background.
Your Profile Isn’t Optimized
This doesn’t necessarily have to do with your reels themselves, but it has to do with your profile. Because it’s one thing for your reels to go viral and another entirely to use that virality as momentum to grow your audience. The truth is, if your profile isn’t optimized, you might not be converting your viral views into followers. There are many ways that you can optimize your profile, but as far as reels are concerned, the first thing you need to do is pick a cover for your reels. You can either create an eye-catching graphic on Canva, or you can choose a still frame from your reels. Whatever you do, you don’t want your reels cover to be a random, unrelated snapshot.
The next thing you can do is make sure that your Instagram bio is optimized. Make your mission statement and your why very clear in your bio. If your reel catches someone’s attention and they click through to your profile, but your bio is unclear about who you are, who you serve, and what you do, you might very likely lose the follow.
Fixing, Refining, and Learning Along the Way
Reels are an incredibly powerful tool to add to your Instagram arsenal. And while a lot of these tips I’ve had to learn through trial and error, you simply won’t go viral until you start. Remember, reels aren’t about perfection from the get-go, but executing your reels with intention will only set you up for success. So take a chance, start out small and consistent, and refine your reels along the way and you’ll start seeing your hard work pay off.
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